Kerr GRANT (1878-1967)

Ballarat School of Mines (SMB)


Kerr Grant was born at Bacchus Marsh. He was educated at the University of Melbourne (B.Sc. 1901, M.Sc. 1903) and the University of Geottingen (1904). At Melbourne University he developed his interest in physics and mathematics under lecturer Prof. Thomas Lyle. From 1901 to 1902 Kerr Grant lectured in mathematics and physics at the Ballarat School of Mines (SMB). A year overseas was followed by a Melbourne University appointment where he lectured in Natural Philosophy. 1909 saw Kerr Grant replace William Bragg at the University of Adelaide.

At the time of his appointment at Ballarat the Students Magazine reported: 'The teaching staff has been very materially strengthened by the appointment of Mr Kerr Grant to the position of lecturer on Mathematics and Dynamics and Heat. Mr Grant is one of Melbourne University's most brilliant graduates. In science he already holds his B.Sc. degree, and was qualified for the M.Sc. for two years before having the higher degree conferred on him. In arts he requires to pass only in elementary Latin and elementary Greek to qualify for his M.A. During his course at the University he greatly distinguish himself by his enthusiasm for and success in physical research work. We hope that he will still exercise the proclivities here, and that they may have the effect of making research work in our midst more popular and fascinating than it is at present. Judging by the success that has already attended his efforts in the abstruse field of mathematics, the new appointment promises to be one of the most fortunate and popular ever made to the staff of the institution.

Upon his departure from SMB the Students Magazine expressed their opinion of Kerr Grant: 'Mr Kerr Grant, B.Sc, who so successfully lectured at the School last year in Maths, and Natural Philosophy, has left to take up the position as lecturer at Ormond College. His departure will be greatly felt both inside and outside the School; and the Ballarat Scientific and Literary Society loses one of its chief pillars. There is also a dull aching void in the sanctum of this journal; a large elongated void, inches over six feet, where the former co-editor sat and reduced to paper those inspiring articles from his fertile mind. We join with the students in wishing Mr Grant every success in his new sphere at the "Shop."'

From 1944 to 1946 Kerr Grant was the Chairman of the Optical Munitions Panel, and was President of the Australian Branch Institute of Physics from 191-1943. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Bath (KCB).

This biography was researched by Clare Gervasoni, January 2008. If you are able to contribute or supply a photograph of Kerr Grant please email

Image caption (RHS): Reference by Kerr Grant on behalf of a former student applying for a position at SMB in 1913.